Archive for the ‘diy’ Category

Art Supply Organizers + Process Video

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A few weeks ago, a neighbor of mine dropped these art supply boxes off and asked me to personalize them with her grandchildren’s names on them. Easy, right? 

They’re un-finished, which gave me a world of options for how to personalize them. Do I paint and lacquer them? Do I make vinyl decals? Ultimately I knew I wanted these boxes to be heirlooms; treasures for these kids to have forever to remind them of their awesome grandma. After all, I’m a huge sucker for sentimentality. My grandparents supported my artistic side when I was a child, so this really struck the right chord. 

I did a little bit of brainstorming and my assistant Hayley (she’s the best), suggested I get the wood burning tools out! Of course! It’s permanent, doesn’t need to be lacquered and relatively quick to do. I love when I get a win like that. Here’s what I used: 

Watch the video above to see the process from beginning to end for both of them, but let me walk you through it here, too. 

I lightly sketched out my design using the white charcoal pencil (erased any stray lines as needed) and allowed my wood burning tool to warm up. I put it on just shy of the hottest setting. I originally started it out at a low setting, but it just wasn’t getting uniform lines. The uniformity in the lines was an issue throughout this project, and I think it’s a limitation of the burning tool in general. It’s a very entry-level tool, so it’s bound to have it’s drawbacks. 

From the videos I’ve watched on pyrography (they’re quite dry, wow) and my own personal experience; I found that the screw-on “nibs” don’t heat up as uniformly as the nibs that are built in to the pyrography tool. FYI: pyrography is a fancy word for wood-burning. ;) That said, this tool is priced in the mid $30s. Whereas the next level in pyrography tools jumps up to the $170s+. It’s a pretty big financial commitment to get the next level up, so there’s that. I won’t likely be upgrading my set up any time soon as I’m only ever getting it out every 6 months or so. 

I followed along my drawn lines, but the nib kept cooling down considerably because of the debris it would pick up in the burning process. I ended up getting a scratch piece of wood to help clean it off every once in a while. That helped me achieve cleaner lines once I figured that one out. 

As far as style inspiration goes, Ella is quite a girly-girl. I added girly flourishes and embellishments to the already traditional style for an elegant “princess” look. Liam is a fun-loving boy, so I made his more of a whimsical foundational style. 

I feel like I do some of the same things day in day out, so this was a nice little challenge and switch up from the norm! Have you ever tried pyrography before?

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Best Tooth Fairy Ever

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We have a killer Tooth Fairy. Not in the creepy horror film way, but in the OMG-she-totally-knocks-it-out-of-the-park sort of way. She’s amazing. Not to toot her horn too much, but she’s a darling little 6″ sprite that writes the sweetest little love notes to Penelope. They even have occasional back-and-forth correspondence that’s total cuteness overload. 

We don’t have many ridiculous or time-intensive traditions at our house. Really, we don’t have many traditions at all. But this is one that really jives with our family core values. It’s creative. It’s cheap. It makes my children’s childhood magical. 95% of the time the Tooth Fairy has her act together, but some times she’s busy. And she gets the tooth the next night. But she usually includes a very heart-felt apology in her little love note the next night. 

Cute dress from the ever darling My Sister’s Closet

I age restricted the video in case little eyes come across the video. Let me know if that’s an issue. I’m still pretty new to this whole YouTube publishing thing. Click on over to YouTube if you’d like to subscribe to my weekly videos. Content includes creative art-related DIYs, art material reviews and lettering/calligraphy time-lapse videos. I’d love it if you subscribed, but you do you. ;)

So here’s what you need: 

Knowing calligraphy isn’t an absolute must*, but it certainly helps. ;) I can teach you how. 

Since I have a Silhouette machine, I downloaded an envelope template from the Silhouette design store and resized to my liking. The final envelope size is somewhere between 1″-1.25″ wide. The letter is about 3/4″ wide and 1 1/2″ tall. So these letters are TINY! It’s what makes them so fun. If you’ve got a Silhouette, resizing an envelope template and cutting out on your machine is easy-peasy. I have cut out envelopes by hand before. Not the most fun thing in the world, but also not the most time consuming thing ever, either. 

The paper listed above handles ink really well. If you’re using a very fine point pen (Sakura has .003 micron pens that will give you a ridiculously small point), then any kind of smooth paper will do. 

If you’re using pen & ink, the Modern nib alternative to the one in the video (the Leonardt Principal) will get you a nice fine hairline. Make sure you use a fine ink as well. I prefer walnut as it’s easy to use and it doesn’t corrode your nib like iron gall inks do. 

Once you’re done with writing your note, fold up the note to fit inside the envelope. Wrap the envelope flaps around the note and seal with a wax seal. You don’t have to glue the flaps closed because the wax will do the work for you. I use wax seal wax and a drill bit to make a fun imprint. 

Then grab your dollar bill and fold it into something exciting. These are my favorites out of the ones I’ve tried:

Then tuck the envelope in one of the folds of the animals and you’re done! I’m sure it’s easier for the Tooth Fairy to slip a buck under the pillow and be done with it, but this is just straight up magical. Let me know if you end up doing this with your kid(s)!

 

 

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2017 Thank You Printable

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The time of year has come where it’s time for the annual Thank You freebie! I love doing this because it gives me a chance to work on styles and techniques I don’t always get to do on a regular basis. For this year, it meant I got to put the watercolor floral classes I’ve taken from Natalie Malan to use. I wanted to go for a slightly muted palette, but it only worked slightly. It’s like a bright, muted palette. ;)

Also, I feel like I must mention that this month completes the 10th year I’ve been blogging! I can’t believe it’s been that long. So much has changed: 6 moves, 3 children and a few career changes to say the least. I didn’t know I would be blogging this long. But here we are! ‘Tis the season for gratitude, so I may as well express that I’m so grateful for the opportunities that blogging and social media has given me. I’ve made dear friends, I’ve traveled, I’ve learned so much and I’ve felt the creative inspiration through the connections that I’ve made. It’s been pretty awesome. Will I still be here, writing in another 10? We shall see! 


Check out the a video of my process here:

This year’s Thank you takes on two forms. One is a plain, 5.5×4.25 rectangle with cut lines for you to follow, the above is a suggestion. You can download the JPG and use Silhouette’s print & cut feature to make a gorgeous full-bleed card with a scalloped edge. See below for the tutorial! 

You certainly don’t have to have a Silhouette in order to take advantage of this printable. Just click The download link below with the description “hand cut”. :) Just giving you some fun options.

DOWNLOAD SILHOUETTE FILES HERE

DOWNLOAD HAND CUT FILES HERE

But I’ve got TONS MORE ‘Thank You’s. Check out the whole list of past years’ printables below!

Want to learn calligraphy? Like the brush lettering I use here? Check out my class on Calligraphy.org. I’ll give you one-on-one instruction to help you get there. We start from the very basics, but because of the personal nature of the instruction we offer off-script learning for the more advanced letterer. Use code BRUSHLETTERING for a 10% discount on the class. :)

Materials used for this DIY: 

This printable is free for personal use only. Any redistribution or commercial use of this printable without written consent is prohibited. © Melissa Esplin 2017. Affiliate links used, by purchasing through an affiliate link, you support MelissaEsplin.com and the free content provided here. Thank you for your support! 

 

Random DIY: Gigantic Yard Googly Eyes

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If you’re here from KSL Studio 5, WELCOME!! I’m excited to have you here! If you’d like to join my next calligraphy workshop in Salt Lake City, click here to register. If you’d like to learn calligraphy online, click here instead. ;)

Here’s the link to the Studio 5 segment, in case you missed it. ;)

This DIY is too simple and hilarious not to share. Last year I bought some 7″ googly eyes from amazon and hung them on my willow tree in the front yard. It rained. The googly eyes fell apart. $7 down the drain. I think those googly eyes would have been great if I had used them inside, or if I lived in a climate that never rained or snowed during the month of October. :/ BUT this year I decided I needed to keep with the googly eye tradition and just make my own. 

And honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t make a million of these bad boys before. They’re easy and cost basically nothing. I had everything on-hand because, well… I’m a craft supplies hoarder. I didn’t have black cardstock, but I did have black lined writing paper, so I used that. You can cut out your own by hand or on a craft cutter like the Silhouette (which is what I did) OR you can print out the eyeballs from the template I’ve designed by clicking the download link below: 

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John & Anna Wedding | Watercolor Wash DIY

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I had the joy to design and letter the wedding invitations for one of my cousins this last August. They were dream clients, too. Both have amazing taste and trusted my expertise and let me play with some fun, new techniques. 

 

I’ve really enjoyed playing around with watercolor pencils and the playfulness and depth they provide to a simple watercolor wash, so I mixed a few colors to get their wedding colors in the wash and went to town. See the below video for an in-depth explanation of how to get that wash. I love the energy that explodes from the background with those washes. 

Check out the tutorial below and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more tutorials like this in the future! 

We went with copper foil printing for the names on the invitation. Part of me wanted to do copper foil for all of the text, but I didn’t want readability to be an issue. We did digital printing with digital foil through a wholesale printer I have an account with, so it was quite affordable, too!

Man, foil is so hard to capture with a camera! It has a lovely rosy, rusty tone to it, it’s hard to see that in the images. But it popped nicely against the watercolor background. 

For the design, I used my go-to font Museo Sans and my own hand-lettering. I lettered the names and titles of cards with my iPad Pro using Procreate and Brush #4 from Fabian Fischer’s ultimate calligraphy brush set. I really liked the texture and functionality of that brush more than any other brush I’ve found around. If you’ve found other good ones, let me know!  

I ended up addressing all of the envelopes for the invitations as well. The couple gave me 100% creative freedom to pen them however worked best. I ended up doing a large-scale script for the names with an all caps for the address. I used the Cocoiro Brush Type marker (if you’re purchasing one for the first time, don’t forget to get a pen body to go with it). The markers lasted me about 75 invitations before it ran out of ink. I ended up doing between 500-600 envelopes. It was a project for sure, but I was THRILLED with the end result. 

I’ve recreated the invitations using my ink-jet printer and laser printer and foil laminator so you can see some of the spots where the foil didn’t adhere. All details have been changed for privacy purposes.

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